PANAJI: Former Goa health minister Suresh Amonkar died of COVID-19 infection on Monday, a health official said.
He was 68. "Amonkar remained admitted in the ESI hospital (in Margao) after testing positive for coronavirus since the last week of June. He succumbed to the infection on Monday evening," the official said, adding that Amonkar had been critical since the last few days.
State Health Minister Vishwajeet Rane also confirmed that Amonkar, a former president of the the Goa BJP, died of COVID-19 disease.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant tweeted, "Deeply saddened by the passing away of Dr Suresh Amonkar, former President of BJP Goa Pradesh and Former Cabinet of Goa Govt. His contribution to the state of Goa is immense and will never be forgotten. I express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family".
Amonkar was first elected to the Goa Legislative Assembly from Pale Assembly constituency, later renamed as Sankhalim in north Goa, in 1999 and 2002 elections.
"Deeply saddened to hear about the sad demise of former Health Minister & President of BJP Goa, Shri. Suresh Amonkar ji due to #COVID19. May God give his family the strength to overcome this tragic loss. My prayers are with his family & loved ones. May his soul rest in peace," Rane tweeted.
Amonkar had served as a minister of Health, Social Welfare, and Labour and Employment in then Fransisco Sardinha government, which was supported by the BJP during 1999-2002.
He had also held portfolios of Health, Labour and Employment in then Manohar Parrikar-led government. Amonkar lost the Assembly elections in 2007 against a Congress candidate.
In 2012, he unsuccessfully contested as an Independent candidate against incumbent chief minister Pramod Sawant.
Amonkar joined rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar's Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) in November, 2016, and unsuccessfully fought from Sankhalim Assembly segment in 2017.
In a condolence message, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat tweeted, "Shocked with unfortunate demise of my close friend, former Health Minister Dr Suresh Amonkar. I shared a close bonding with him. He lived with sincerity and honesty in his personal, professional, political and social career".